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Book Review: Fortunate Son

by Lang Reid

The longer title is George W Bush - The Early Years, with a rider across the cover - The Book They Tried to Ban! Written by James Hatfield, a former political columnist, this book was originally published in 1999, but this imprint was done this year (ISBN 1-904132-46-4). It is claimed by author Hatfield that the original publication was withdrawn and suppressed, and it was only after much infighting that it was eventually published.

Hatfield deals with George W Bush, looking at his life chronologically. Right at the outset of the book there is a train of thought that George W Bush benefited from the fact that his father had made money in the Texas oil fields, was a senator and later the president of the Unites States. Whilst I am willing to admit that I am not a George Dubbya fan, I also believe that all fathers would naturally want to help their children. How many of us have not asked friends to help children out with jobs during school vacations, for example. I believe Hatfield pushes this point too much.

Likewise, much is made of the young Bush’s romantic attachments, all of which I believe are fairly normal during the maturation of young men (and women). I would also lump drug experimentation done by young people in the 60’s and 70’s as ‘normal’ for the period. The fact that a president might have tried marijuana in his 20’s does not make me think less of him as a person. What it does do is make me think that the American public has an unreal expectation of national morality. (This is still evident with the Janet Jackson ‘wardrobe accident’ nipple exposure at the Super Bowl. One presumes that nursing mothers in America only feed children behind locked doors!)

By the time Hatfield is looking at the 30+ year old Dubbya’s own exploits into the oil exploration business, he attempts to make much of a tie-in between one of his original investors, who had business dealings with the father of Osama bin Laden. Guilty by association twice removed is too far removed for me to give this much credence.

Hatfield also looks to make much political capital in the fact that influential people were prepared to invest in Dubbya’s failing oil exploration, just because of his name. Living as we do in a country where you can get ahead by having a name beginning with ‘Shin’ and ending in ‘watra’, Hatfield’s revelations do not really amount to much. Rather it makes me feel that his backers were astute businessmen, with long term viewpoints.

In other ‘revelations’ Hatfield points out that perhaps Dubbya was in on the ‘smear tactics’ used in his father’s election campaign. Again this leaves me more than somewhat underwhelmed. This has been normal tactics for the past 50 years at least.

The book, for me, was far from being an expose of George W Bush, but more a description of American politics and business. In fact I ended up liking the man more than I had before!

The review copy was supplied by Bookazine with an RRP of 450 baht.

Mott's CD Reviews: Kingdom Come – Journey

Launched by Mott The Dog Re-entered by Ella Crew

5 Fire Stars *****

After just one album and two hit singles (the first of which was the number one hit ‘Fire’, the other one ‘Nightmare’, which was just as disturbing, but fared less well), the Crazy World Of Arthur Brown imploded in the middle of their first American tour.

During their stage show Arthur Brown used to arrive on stage with his head on fire, wearing long flowing gowns, weaving round the stage like some demented dervish. He was backed on stage by Vincent Crane on keyboards and Carl Palmer on drums, who at the demise of the Crazy World Of Arthur Brown went on to form Atomic Rooster.

Carl Palmer only lasted one album with the Rooster before going on to the diamond studded drum stool with first ‘Emerson, Lake, and Palmer’ and then ‘Asia’. Vincent Crane obviously brought in replacements and found his own way to rock ‘n’ roll stardom with Rooster.

For Arthur Brown it was two years in litigation before he was allowed to carry on his career, but when he did it was in stunning fashion under the group banner name of Kingdom Come. First there were two wonderfully eccentric albums in “Galactic Zoo Dossier” and the self titled “Kingdom Come” with its glorious tales of traffic lights, whirlpools, and teachers; both were released in 1972, before “Journey”, arguably Brown’s finest hour.

To say that the line-up fluctuated somewhat is a bit of an understatement. From the first album only Andy Dalby on lead guitar was still in the band, and when fourth drummer Chris Burrows left after the first album, the band dispensed with a drummer altogether. All the rhythm work was done by Bentley, a homemade drum machine, which Brown operated both in the studio and on the live stage. This was not a fact the band tried to hide, and by the time this wonderful album was recorded, Bentley had been moved up to the very front of the mix. (If only Spinal Tap had thought of this, perhaps one day they will. It would make a wonderful headline, “Electric Drum machine killed in bizarre gardening accident”.)

Having an electronic member in the band made perfect sense. It was not possible that any of the others came from planet Earth. You only have to listen to the eerie keyboards of Victor Peraino, the man who actually spoke less than the drummer, to verify this.

The bass playing of Phil Shutt is hypnotically heavy throughout. Andy Dalby’s guitar playing was always the perfect foil to Arthur Brown’s crystal clear vocal delivery. When you listen to the songs on this album you cannot help but wonder why Arthur Brown is not mentioned in the same breath as other leading English vocalists such as Paul Rogers and Joe Cocker.

To see this band acting out their songs on the live stage at the beginning of the seventies was a sight to behold, giving real meaning to a stage show. The band would arrive on stage with all their faces painted gold. Then Arthur Brown would wind up Bentley, thumping out a slow heavy beat, which would be the sign for the opening of ‘Time Captives’. This song always opened the set in the band’s later years, and on this album. As the beat starts to speed up, Phil Shutt picks up the beat before being joined by Andy Dalby and Victor Peraino, leading to Arthur Brown’s unworldly vocals.

The songs that follow do not disappoint, as the musicianship is of the finest order. In the genre of Progressive Space Rock, this ranges up there with the finest. (Pink Floyd’s Meddle and Hawkwind’s Warrior On The Edge Of Time come to mind as other fine albums of their ilk.) This album bears repeated listening, because the closer you get your ears, the more you discover. If you would like to listen to something out of the traditional rock avenues, may I suggest a trip into the eccentric thoughts of Arthur Brown and his spacemusos on this fine collection and take a ‘Journey’.

Spacemen on this Journey
Arthur Brown - Bentley the Drum Machine and Vocals
Andy Dalby - Electric Guitar
Phil Shutt - Bass and Percussion
Victor Peraino - Melotron, Piano, Synthesizer, Theramin, Percussion, and various other wind and bubble makers


Time Captives
Superficial Roadblocks
Spirit of Joy
Come alive

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